Harry sat down in his bed in Gryffindor Tower with the curtains drawn and Silenced, making himself comfortable against a bank of pillows at his back. Reaching over to grab the box beside him and setting it in his lap, he cracked his knuckles and cast the spell to visualize his aura.
Harry’s aura looked the same as it always did - a swirling, snapping spiral of warm gold and sage green with a vague haze of bruise-like purple hovering around his head. The first time he’d successfully cast this spell in the Curse-Breakers’ Club, the people near him had gasped and checked to see if he’d accidentally touched one of the cursed objects before he should have. It turned out, his aura had always been like that. Harry dismissed the spell before making a positive notation for aura pre-check on the tracking sheet.
On went the magic-blocking gloves. A pen was obtained. The ward to contain any backlash had already been set up.
The wooden box was opened to reveal what looked like a modest prize, undeserving of such focused attention.
But this was no ordinary diary. He pressed the pen to the page and began to write.
A pause. Then elegant, ruler-straight cursive began to fill the next line as Harry’s writing faded.
Why, hello there. What’s your name?
Harry took a single breath before plunging in.
Harry. What’s yours?
Tom. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Harry.
And that was as much information as anyone had gotten out of the book previously. Literally - the entry in the Cursed Objects Compendium for the diary said: “Diary of one “Tom,” suspected memory-trapped individual who ostensibly attended Hogwarts. Curse Category: Magic-Draining.”
(The section for Magic-Draining objects was frighteningly large. Harry wasn’t surprised that he was the first person to check the diary out since it had been logged.)
He put pen back to paper. It’s nice to meet you too, Tom!
You don’t seem too surprised by a book writing back, Harry. Is that a common thing where you are? Well, that was one way to subtly check whether Harry was a wizard.
I mean, my Care of Magical Creatures textbook in third year literally bit my hand and drew blood, so no, this isn’t the most surprising thing I’ve seen a book do.
Ah, you’re at Hogwarts then? What year are you?
Sixth year! Did you go to Hogwarts, Tom?
I did - it sounds like we’re the same age.
How’d you become a book, then? Playing the ingenue was a classic and Harry was going to stick with it until it wasn’t effective any more.
Well, that’s quick. Aren’t you going to take me out to dinner first?
Huh. I didn’t expect an object to have this much personality.
Wish I knew how. Do you… Can you eat in there?
Sadly, no. No food, no drink, no weather - just me and my thoughts. It’s been a while, Harry.
How long have you been this way, Tom? Harry leaned forward, excited.
Well, what year is it?
It’s 1996 now, October.
A long moment passed.
In a much slower, shakier hand, writing appeared on Tom’s side - When I accidentally sucked myself into this diary, it was 1943.
It took a bit for the mental calculations to run in Harry’s head, but he eventually drew in a breath as he realized it had been 53 years for the other. He wasn’t quite sure what to write, so it was somewhat of a relief when Tom added, I’m sorry, Harry, but I’m going to need some time to process this.
Sure thing, Tom. Harry began to close the book, but paused when he saw more writing start to appear underneath what he had written.
Harry? Don’t put me back where you found me. Please… promise you’ll write back? It was almost a vulnerable plea, but Harry didn’t have the heart to say no. Yes, this was a magic-draining cursed artifact, but damn. If Harry had been stuck in a book for half a century he could understand doing a lot of things to get someone’s attention.
Of course, Tom.
Thank you. The writing faded after a couple of seconds.
Harry closed the book and put it back in the warded box it came from, dismantling his protective system as he went. He then grabbed his tracking sheet and began to take notes on the interaction, eventually casting the aura check spell to round out the procedure set. Green, gold, wavering purple flaring up around his hands this time. As it should be.
As he curled up in bed later that evening, Harry contemplated how awful it would be to not be able to go anywhere, with only himself for company. It was a wonder Tom had retained any sanity at all, much less a sense of humor.
He drifted off to sleep with images of purple books dancing in the back of his head.
I've got too many projects, Harry internally lamented. By this point in his Hogwarts career, hiding behind a suit of armor from a cat was almost routine. Of course Mrs. Norris was patrolling the only corridor between the North Tower and Gryffindor Tower. Where else would she be? Grumbling to himself, Harry set in to wait her out. Another fruitless night of searching Hogwarts' hallways and tapestries for secret rooms - knocking patterns on walls, testing standard passwords at anything vaguely snake-shaped, and looking to see if any portraits appeared vaguely like a tenth-century Spanish noble.
His latest rabbit trail of research had led him to the theory that Salazar Slytherin had established a secret potions room-slash-entrance to the Chamber of Secrets in the North Tower. This fell sharply in contrast to the prevailing theories, which all placed the access point squarely in the dungeons. Which - Harry wasn't discounting those theories, it was just much more enjoyable to search a tower than to poke around the basement, the deeper areas of which were always damp and cold and smelled more than a little of lake water and mildew. However, the North Tower theory wasn't panning out, so Harry would probably have to return to the dungeons next week Monday after dinner. Blast Slytherin for not having a more easily-located secret chamber, Harry thought half-jokingly.
He still hadn't found any other viable leads for a hidden room or area of Hogwarts that hadn't already been noted on the Marauder's Map. Not for the last time, Harry cursed his father and father's friends for being so God-damned thorough in their castle explorations. Leave a little for your son coming after you, would you? All I want to do is... Harry sighed, then caught himself before remembering the silencing charm hadn't worn off yet. He had this thing about legacy that he hadn't been able to shake. Ever since he'd discovered that the Marauder's Map had been made by James Potter, Harry had wanted to build on it, to add to it, to enter into this thing that his dad had been passionate about.
He checked on the cat. She was still there, though her nose was twitching towards the staircase leading down to the greenhouses.
Six years at Hogwarts, and still the best leads he's had have been for Slytherin's Chamber.
One of these days I'll find it.
Harry started up a new section of his tracking sheet for the second conversation. He’d waited four days because that seemed like a sensible amount of time and he didn’t want to seem too eager to continue interacting with Tom. He didn’t think writing in the diary actually had an addictive side, but the sheer concept of talking with someone for the second time in fifty years? Learning some of the secrets Tom knew, that no one else in two generations or more was even aware of?
Harry was aware that his Slytherin side was showing, but he didn’t care. That was half the reason he’d joined the Curse-Breakers Club - to find a productive outlet for these impulses of his.
Running a finger along the worn-soft leather cover of the diary, Harry took a deep breath and then opened it.
Hello, Tom. How are you doing today?
Much better now that you’re here, Harry.
Such a charmer, Tom.
I live to please.
One question before we continue - how long has it been since you first wrote in my diary? The passage of time in here has been… relative at best.
It’s been four days, Tom. Today is Friday.
Thank you. What have you been up to today?
Well, this is my free period after lunch because I’m not taking Divination. I’ve got Herbology first thing on odd days, and then Transfiguration. Potions is fourth period and whoever scheduled it in the last time slot of the day should be shot to be quite honest.
What were you doing Wednesday at this time?
Wednesday afternoon? I took a nap. I’d gotten to sleep far, far too late Tuesday night.
May I ask what you’d been up to to keep you up? I’d like to know what I’m competing against for your attention.
Harry raised an eyebrow. Competing, Tom?
You’re the only form of interaction I have, Harry. Can’t you see why I would desire as much of your time as possible?
You do have a point. Well, if you must know what I was up to Tuesday night, I was aimfully exploring the castle.
Aimfully?? Disdain dripped from the page as Tom underlined the word pointedly.
Harry snorted. Well, I wasn’t wandering aimlessly. I did have a goal! Therefore, aimfully.
I am going to pointedly ignore the word you have invented from wholecloth and graciously ask the question you’ve opened yourself up to, which is what your goal is in exploring the castle.
You were a Slytherin, weren’t you?
Lucky guess. Tom’s reply seemed a bit fainter than it had been - Harry had to squint a bit and lean closer to the page to be able to make it out. The other boy couldn’t print, could he - noo, he had to write in a dense, neat, loopy hand that almost made Harry’s eyes cross if he looked at it for too long.
Harry brightened up. Hey! Do you know anything about the Chamber of Secrets? That’s what I was searching for, to answer your question. None of the Slytherins who’ll talk to me will answer my questions any more, and I figure it probably opened last around when you were at Hogwarts.
Well, I guess that reveals which House you’re in, doesn’t it?
Hey there! Harry pouted. For all you know, I could be in Hufflepuff.
You could, darling, but then your time’s Slytherins wouldn’t be half so defensive as they are to you as a Gryffindor. I can guarantee that.
I guess that’s fair.
… You still haven’t answered my question about the Chamber of Secrets, though.
Tom wrote something in reply, but Harry couldn’t make it out even when he took off his glasses and put his face six inches from the page. He’d love to be able to use a lighting charm, but bringing a wand within the containment ward for artifacts in the Magic-Draining category was frowned upon and he’d get a demerit on his project.
Harry shrugged and sat up. Oh well, better luck next time.
He noted that the book seemed to have run out of juice before closing out the checklist for the day and giving his neck a solid crack. I guess I have a little extra time now to study density interactions before Potions.
I can help you find the Chamber of Secrets.
That was the sentence Harry opened up the diary to find.
Well, that’s a very nice thing to hear. Why do you want to help me?
Please - I can say with confidence that this is the most interesting thing to happen to me in the past… oh, I don’t know. In the past fifty years at least.
Harry grinned widely. Oh, you charmer. I bet you tell that to all the boys.
Only the boys who ask me nicely. Harry raised the backs of his fingers to his cheek, which felt warm to the touch. Huh.
What progress have you made so far? He was grateful for the distraction.
Well, I’ve searched the southwest quadrant of the dungeons, the North Tower, and most of the main floor, and the snake portrait beneath the north stairs won’t tell me anything, but I have a sneaking suspicion they know more than they’re letting on.
Wait wait wait, did you say the portrait of a snake? Why is a snake talking to you? You mean the person who’s holding a snake is telling you they don’t know anything?
No, I mean that the snake themselves told me that.
Tom’s disbelief was palpable. You can’t mean to say that you’re a Parselmouth!
I can and I am. Do you have a problem with that? Harry was prepared to defend himself, like he had had to in second year during that awful dueling club incident, but he hadn’t thought it would be such a big deal to Tom, who was one of the most classical Slytherins Harry had ever met.
Me? Never. I'm a Parselmouth, too, you see. Just - You know how rare that ability is, right?
I’ve only been beat over the head with that, yes. And hey! Belatedly, Harry processed the first part of what Tom had said. You speak to snakes too!
Do you... are you descended from Slytherin?
Not on my dad’s side, as far as I can tell from the genealogy books. My mum was a Muggleborn, though, but seeing as they’re both dead, it’s not like I can ask them what they knew about her ancestry, now can I? And the only other person in recent history who did speak the snake language killed them, so it's not like he's a fount of information.
I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hit on a sore spot.
Harry sighed. It’s all right. I’m sorry to blow up on you like that.
I understand, you know. I’m an orphan as well. Grew up not even knowing my mum’s name.
Growing up with my mother’s sister and her husband, I knew my parents’ names, but I hadn’t seen a picture of them till I got to Hogwarts.
How did you first hear about magic?
And needless to say, that conversation stretched far into the night.
Stupid Malfoy. I can’t believe he still thinks he’s better than everyone even when there’s six years of evidence proving otherwise.
They’re still blonde, snobby bastards with their noses in the air who think they’re God’s gift to magic?
Every single last one of them.
Then they haven’t changed a bit. Wankers.
I mean, I know they’re only kids. But you’d think that someone, somewhere would have taught them basic courtesy!!
What’s got you fired up today? Tom was amused, and a little indulgent. Harry had such strong emotions, and it was always enjoyable to tease them out and learn what made the other boy tick.
It’s less of being fired up and more of being fed up. God. Every year they seem to forget that the whole “celebrating that the Dark Lord Voldemort is defeated” holiday might be a little gauche to throw in the face of the kid whose parents died doing the defeating. Honestly.
This wasn’t amusing any more, was it?
Tom had been toying around with the moniker of Voldemort for a little over a year before he had gotten this part of himself stuck in a Horcrux. Apparently his other self, in the intervening time, had… killed Harry’s parents? And also been killed? Wait, no. Defeated.
(He'd had a sneaking suspicion when Harry'd mentioned that the only other Parselmouth in recent history had antagonized his family, but a guy could hope, okay?)
Details were in order.
I’m sorry, Harry. That sounds like they’re being very insensitive. Not his finest work, but Tom felt he could be excused because of the shock.
They are. Thank you. A pause. I mean, they’re second-years, that means they should have an inkling of impulse control, right?
One could hope.
Tom firmed up his resolve. He probably wouldn’t like this, but he couldn’t do anything about the situation if he didn’t have a clue about what was going on.
Harry, feel free to tell me no. But I am unfamiliar with the history you’re referencing - if you feel up to it, would you mind explaining to me what happened?
… You know what, Tom? I think this’ll be the first time I’ve gotten to tell anyone about this without someone assuming they already know everything. Maybe it’ll be cathartic or whatever.
Harry launched himself into a truly fantastical tale about resistance groups and blood purity and fated enemies, while Tom found himself growing more and more repulsed with what his future self had been up to these past fifty years. Making enemies of Muggleborns? Killing other wixen for disagreeing with him?
Targeting a fucking one-year-old baby??
He’d wanted to change things, and he’d flirted with the concept of taking down the government in order to do so, but his main goal had been to make himself safe! Not whatever this convoluted mass-murder fantasy thing his other self had going on.
It seemed that much contemplation and self-seeking was going to be in order.
(And at some point he was going to have to come to grips with the fact that another part of himself had killed Harry’s parents. That was going to be… awful.)
They finally got a proper Auror in for a Defense teacher, which is great. Honestly. She’s loads better than most of our previous teachers.
How many Defense professors have you had, Harry? We had Professor Merrythought the whole time I was there, and she’d been going strong for at least thirty years by the time I started.
Well, this is my sixth year, so... six.
An incredulous pause. What.
Yep, and it’s been a real treat, let me tell you. Back to what I was saying earlier, though - the Auror is actually teaching us proper spells as well as physical dodging and technique but Tom I’m so sore what the hell?! You’d think I’d have “physical fitness” down pat from, y’know, having to traverse the literal castle every day, but noooo Potter you have to learn how to fall properly. My whole left side’s a bruise.
Harry may have panicked a tiny bit when he realized he had let his last name drop (never share identifying information with sentient-passing constructs), but thankfully Tom didn’t seem to notice.
You do realize falling properly is the first step in literally every martial art ever, right? Like day one. There are five-year-olds who have mastered the skill.
Yes, yes, Tom, I realize that I am inferior to literal children, just let me whine about this right now, okay? It’s distracting me from the pain.
On a side note, do you know any martial arts?
Wouldn’t you like to know. Harry huffed. Such a Slytherin.
Tom soon continued, though. Your Defense education sounds… Well, I’m sure you have plenty of stories to tell. Is that a correct assumption?
This is correct! Do you want me to tell you about Gilderoy Lockhart and his love of lilac?
Such a promising start. Please, enlighten me.
I still hold that they’re completely unnecessary and even detrimental to the development of further wizarding technology.
By this point Harry was comfortable enough in his abilities and in his rapport with Tom to just chat with the other at various points throughout the day. At the moment, they were in the middle of a rousing argument about the necessity (or otherwise) of broom travel in the wizarding world.
You keep thinking that, Tom, while I literally fly where I want to go.
Where did I say that I couldn’t fly, Harry?
Um, when you said you hated brooms and wanted them all to die in various ditches?
Brooms aren’t the only way to fly, dear.
Harry scratched at his head in confusion. Magic carpets are so slow and cumbersome, though.
The edges of the pages of the diary seemed to flutter in an imperceptible sigh. I’m talking about unaided flight.
That’s impossible. Harry was sure of that. That was one of the first things I asked about once I made it to Hogwarts. There isn’t a spell in the entire Library to help you fly without a previously-charmed piece of furniture.
Which is why I made that spell.
Sucking in a breath, Harry stared at the pages of the diary. He has to teach me. Harry would do many things, not all of them legal, for that ability. Flight was the dream, was Harry’s absolute favorite part of the Wizarding World.
Then his mind changed gears. If that was true, then Tom was an actual genius! Spell-creating while still at Hogwarts? And self-directed spells were one of the trickiest classes to master, as well!
Did it work, Tom? Flight?
Like a charm. Pride oozed palpably from the book, and Harry rolled his eyes a little before eagerly continuing.
Did you invent any other spells while you were at Hogwarts, Tom?
As a matter of fact, I did - actually I was working on… Well. His conversation partner’s writing slowed down toward the end of the sentence, trailing off.
What is it?
Well, I was working on a spell to preserve a memory of myself, like a wizarding portrait, without the art fuss, when I became… this.
That brought Harry up short. Tom had avidly avoided all mention of his transformation into book form, until this point. Clearly, it was a sore spot.
I’m sorry. It must be awful.
That it is. I’ve had plenty of time to contemplate my options and all the things, every single tiny one of the things, that I could have changed to potentially come up with a different result. My conclusion is that my attempt was too ambitious.
Harry tried to remain serious, but couldn’t help a sliver of a smile from showing through. Alert the presses - a Slytherin has stated that they were too ambitious. This is the first sighting of that statement from that House in the past millennium. Readers are shocked.
Oh, come off it, Harry. Harry’s smile widened into a grin. Distraction: successful. Like I said, plenty of time to think over it. I should have tried it on a rat or something first.
And how would you check to see if it worked? Draw a piece of cheese on the book?
Either that or draw a cat.
Can you even draw, Tom?
As you may have guessed from my earlier admission that I was pursuing the portrait spell without the art side, I cannot draw to save my life.
So you’re saying it would be a stick figure cat.
Yes, Harry, it would be a stick figure cat.
Professor Flitwick wandered over to Harry’s side of the club room for his weekly check and nodded encouragingly at him. Harry visualized his aura - he could do it wandlessly at this point - and looked back at the professor expectantly. Flitwick made a single circle around Harry and then paused in front of him, stroking his chin.
“I think, Mr. Potter, that between your excellent handle on safety and the categorization of your artifact as lower concern, you have this project well in hand. I trust that you will keep up with the full protocols at all times?”
Harry nodded. “Yes, sir.” Letting his aura go, he did his best to look trustworthy, whatever that meant.
“Very good.” The professor clapped his hands together, looking pleased. “I believe I’m advancing you to Stage 3 of your project. Keep up with your personal aura checks, and you must present your progress to me or Angelina at least monthly or when you’ve made a breakthrough. Understood?”
Harry grinned. “Thank you, Professor!”
In Harry's head, it just wasn't a big deal.
Call him jaded, call him overconfident - he just couldn't bother to care that yet another group of Slytherins were acting suspicious around him.
This was not a new phenomenon; it had happened many times before, and it would happen again. Some Hogwarts students just really disliked Harry, and the Slytherins in particular had not taken the revelation that he spoke Parseltongue well. You'd think that they'd be honored or something that I share a language with their great lord.
Harry had no time for this.
I would prefer the advice of someone who can actually see me, but I’m getting desperate. Tom, what hair grooming spells did you use when you had a body?
I’m not sure how I feel about being your last resort, Harry.
Yeah, yeah, whatever. Get it out of your system. No one else in the dorms has the same hair type as me and I’m trying to get ready for a date and nothing’s working! Help?
Only if you ask nicely.
Harry groaned. He didn’t have time for this! Please, Tom. Okay? I’ll refrain from insulting your pride or whatever next time, I just… I need help.
I suppose that’ll have to do.
How many of the spells in the “Papillae caput” series have you tried?
All of them.
…….. You’re serious?
Huh. And I know it’s not an issue of power. You’re right, this is serious.
For the next half hour, they worked through a long set of increasingly obscure spells for hair that Tom knew or that Harry could find on short notice. Harry ran out of description words for hair about five minutes in.
You know I have no context for what that means, right?
Doesn’t mean it’s not the most accurate term for it right now.
Eventually Harry settled on one that produced the least worst result, with two minutes remaining. He managed to dash out a Thanks for your help! before tripping down approximately twenty flights of stairs to the entrance hall.
Tom’s dry response, however?
You’re welcome, Harry. Best of luck on your… date.
Was faded by the time Harry made his way back upstairs, mildly frustrated, later that evening. His date had been fine? There had been no spark, though - conversation had just been so-so, and Harry had been, recently, spoiled.
Distract me, Tom.
Date didn’t go well, I presume?
Don’t. Just, don’t ask.
Very well, then. How much do you know about Japanese kitsunes?
Nothing! Enlighten me.
If Harry focused, he could feel smugness and a spark of happiness emanating from the diary as Tom gave Harry a proper lecture on the trickster fox spirits. Technically Harry being able to sense emotions from the diary wasn’t a good sign, and was in fact, very bad. But Harry couldn’t be arsed to care at this point. He kicked off his shoes, shrugged out of his stiff formal robes, and collapsed on the bed, grinning at the book propped up beside him.
They stayed like that long into the night.
Harry dropped his messenger bag to the floor with a grunt. Some sadistic force of the universe had decided that you could either shrink potion ingredients or make them weightless, but not both. And the Vision-Strengthening Brew Harry wanted to make was no slouch when it came to number of ingredients, so. Sneaking thirty full-sized containers of ingredients across the castle to an abandoned brewing room was a no-go. Rubbing the small of his back with one hand, Harry fished the diary out of the side pocket of the bag with the other and flipped it open on the pre-prepared music stand.
I hope you’re as good at potions as you say, Tom. If I literally broke my back for nothing, I’m going to have words with you.
I’ve never overestimated my abilities in my life.
Harry snorted. That’s rich, coming from the bloke who literally got himself imprisoned inside a book for fifty years on accident.
That was one time. Harry could feel the disgruntlement coming off the page and didn’t deign that with an answer. Anyways, potions are a strong point of mine. Now this is how you should set up your space…
Following Tom’s detailed instructions, Harry created an ingredient preparation counter, which was separate from the ingredient staging counter, which was also separate from the actual cauldron.
How come we don’t prepare this thoroughly before making potions in class? God knows you can’t fit more than three ginger roots beside the cauldron on those tiny desks in there.
The pages of the diary seemed to sigh. Really, for a book, Tom could be quite expressive when he wanted to. I had hoped Slughorn would evolve his approach just a little in half a century, but apparently that’s too much to ask.
There’s just not enough room in the classroom, Harry. And by the time you get to the advanced classes with fewer students, everyone’s used to the minimized layout. It’s also “more practical for personal brewing,” which is total bullshit. If you’re brewing by yourself, you hopefully have more than 2 foot by 3 foot of space to work in or else you shouldn’t be brewing at all.
By the time Tom got to the end of his rant (which Harry actually quite enjoyed), the first lines of it had already faded away. Harry’s grin turned into a frown.
Hey, Tom. I didn’t bring the potions textbook along.
That’s because I told you not to - that recipe was old when I was around, and can be improved upon vastly…
I know, Tom. You told me already. But will you have enough strength? Ink? To keep up the whole recipe and ingredient list while I’m brewing?
The long pause was telling.
I should have enough strength for what you need, yes.
All right, Tom. I’m counting on you once I start brewing, you know?
Yes. I know, Harry.
And Tom did his best. He kept up a full page of instructions for the first half hour of preparation, and upped it to a page and a half when the actual brewing started, but Harry could tell he was spreading himself thin.
It all came to a head when Harry was using one hand to measure and his second to stir, while maintaining both a passive timer charm and a shield, and Tom’s writing started to waver exactly at the point where Harry needed to know how many times to stir and he couldn’t just let go of anything and write for the amount of time it would take to actually ask Tom and this was important, he couldn’t remember whether it was fifteen or seventeen turns widdershins and the wrong one would mean the potion curdling and he just.
so in frustration he dropped the dragonfly wings (on the counter) with his left hand, grabbed his wand, and cast an overpowered “Lumos” at the diary, hoping it would solve something.
The diary was enveloped in light, which was vaguely what was supposed to happen, and then started to shake, which was definitely not supposed to happen at all.
At that point, Harry was a little fascinated and more than a little frightened, but mostly frustrated because he needed those potion instructions damnit and “Quit your shaking, Tom, and just tell me how many stirs I need to make after the Tokay larynx!!”
And Tom did.
Wonder of wonders, the diary settled down as the glow sunk into the book itself and two pages worth of writing showed up clear as day and thankfully it had been seventeen stirs and Harry didn’t do it wrong, and after that the wings were supposed to be folded in and he almost forgot about the “giving Tom magic” bit.
Until the potion was done and he realized what had gone down and holy shit he’d fed magic to a magic-draining artifact what the hell Potter and he’d given Tom magic and Tom had been able to use it and he was tempted to tear his own hair out but instead he grabbed a pen and began to scribble furiously.
What. The Heck. Just. Happened.
The response from Tom’s side was slow, almost reluctant. I don’t exactly know - I was hoping you could tell me?
Harry wanted to shake the book. You’re the magic draining artifact, aren’t you??
I mean - it’s not like I’ve had a chance to test that out before! Almost as an afterthought came, Or have even wanted to test it out.
Harry had to just, step away. He turned and paced up and down the room, angry with himself and with Tom, but mostly with himself. How had he forgotten that Tom was a book? And a dangerous one at that? It… The diary… Goddamnit, he was an object but Harry had gone and gotten himself attached and couldn’t think of him as anything but his friend Tom and now he’d screwed this all up.
He didn’t want it to be screwed up, he liked the camaraderie they’d been forming, but that’s what happened, right?
It had… Something had changed. ?
He’d shot a spell at Tom and Tom had metabolized it, in a way. Been able to use it.
But wasn’t that part of Tom being in the diary, the “being able to use other people’s magic” bit?
Only one thing for it.
Striding back up to his station, he grabbed his pen before looking up at the book and freezing because all that was written on the page was:
And that? That broke Harry’s heart a little bit, because - look. Tom was a very proud guy. It was a whole thing. And the only other time in their entire relationship that Tom had said, “Please,” was when he pleaded with Harry in their first interaction not to put him back away permanently.
And Harry knew this was the same thing.
What happened, Tom, and why should I believe you?
Tom wrote quickly and precisely. You intonated the spell “Lumos” in my general direction, at which point the diary’s inbuilt runic matrix took in a part of the ambient magic and “charged up,” in a sense. At that point I was able to display the instructions more clearly.
This concise explanation was followed immediately by a, Don’t put me away, Harry.
Harry held his breath.
I’ve never tried to steal your magic, and this was not a deliberate attempt on my part.
I don’t want to be alone again.
This last sentence was written slowly, deliberately - Harry could almost see where Tom’s pen was pushing hard on the page.
I believe you.
Tom followed up quickly - Thank you.
That doesn’t mean, and here Harry shook himself a little. That doesn’t mean I’m not freaked out, okay? I’m allowed to be a little freaked out. I’m going to need some time.
Anything, Harry. I’ll talk to you later, then?
And Harry closed the book gently. Before packing up the cauldron and ingredients and all that, he very thoroughly followed the proper steps for end-of-cursed-item-interactions, except for the “taking notes on what happened during the interaction” part. He very gingerly cast the aura-revealing spell, then sighed in relief when his own familiar gold and green shone forth.
Harry noticed out of the corner of his eye that the usual purple haze was smaller than usual, but he chalked it up to luck and called it a day.
It’s time for a large slice of treacle tart and a mind-numbing game of chess. That I’ll lose.
Tom… didn’t quite know what to think about Harry.
It’s not like he hadn’t had time to contemplate the nature of what he was as a horcrux and what he might have done differently - many, many things come to mind over the course of fifty years. He hadn’t considered that future him? Separate him? Would keep making more Horcruxes. Wasn’t he special? Wasn’t he supposed to be the only one?
And that, Harry??
Take a step back, Tom. Think about this from the beginning.
Harry had been… a revelation. Aside from the diary being opened up for what couldn’t have been more than two minutes and placed back in the Room of Requirement, Harry was the literal first person he’d talked to in fifty years, and he didn’t disappoint. He was smart, and kind, and bitterly funny, and curious.
It wasn’t even like this was the first time Harry had thrown him for a loop - the Gryffindor was a Parselmouth, apparently?
Actually, huh. Harry being his- future his- Voldemort’s- horcrux (Merlin, this was confusing) made the snake-speaking make more sense. Some part of his soul was embedded in the other boy, and had to have some effect.
And wasn’t that a delicious thought. A part of him was already inside Harry, claiming Harry.
But it wasn’t quite Tom? It was future-Tom… And Voldemort had killed Harry’s parents, so that wasn’t terrifyingly ominous and he wasn’t having an identity crisis over the whole thing, nooooo.
At this point, Tom was pacing back and forth on the plush rug in the version of the Slytherin common room he preferred to conjure within the diary.
He wanted Harry, that much he knew. Had known, from close to the very beginning.
Sharing Harry’s magic had been the single most exhilarating experience in his entire life, and that was counting his self-powered flight. Somewhere between overlapping auras and Horcruxes and soul madness was the tantalizing thought that Harry fit with Tom.
That he was made for Tom, and only him. He’d have to deal with what his other self had done to Harry at some point.
Tom had to see Harry for himself, had to confirm.
What’s up, Tom?
I’ve been thinking, and I should be able to show you a memory that will help you in your search for the Chamber of Secrets.
You have a memory, within yourself who is a memory?
Har, har. Do you want to see it, or not?
Harry stilled. You mean you’ll describe things for me?
I mean, you can see it. I’m sure you’ll get more out of visual stimuli and location cues than I’d be able to write about.
This was all true, but: How would you be able to do this?
If I have enough strength, I can show you memories, like a Pensieve. You’ve used one before, right?
I have. And he had, in Dumbledore’s office - the Headmaster had showed Harry memories of his parents when they’d been younger.
Is it safe?
I promise it’s safe. It’s me using strength, Harry, not me draining anything.
Harry wanted to trust him - this sounded like the breakthrough he desperately needed. Tom hadn’t actively drained him ever, and what was the basis of faith anyway? Something, something, take a step.
Okay, Tom. I trust you.
What do I need to do?
You’ll need to put your bare hand on the diary page.
Off to a great start, there. Now Harry was more nervous about what Tom was up to, but he still peeled the magic-resistant glove off of his hand and placed it tentatively on the diary.
Nothing happened, then everything all at once swirled, and the edges of his vision went white and he was
And his feet hit the ground. Stone ground - it looked like he was still in Hogwarts - but he was in the dungeons now? Harry took a second to check his bearings, his wand up and poised, before pivoting and sweeping his head around and,
This must be Tom.
Harry was staring at him, and Tom was staring back and that was good because they were both being rude now, apparently.
Holy shit, Tom was drop-dead gorgeous! How on earth was this fair?? Harry’s bi heart couldn’t handle this. He already had a crush on the guy from their easy conversations and what he’d caught of the other man’s wit and intelligence, but now he knew Tom’s jawline looked like that?
Harry was still processing all this new information as Tom shook himself a little and started to stride forwards and this was not a memory, Tom, did you trick me on purpose? But Tom got close enough that Harry could feel his body warmth and then he reached up a hand to cup Harry’s face.
“Hello, Harry.” Tom’s smile softened his sharp features, and his deep voice somehow sounded exactly how Harry had imagined it. “It’s nice to finally meet you.” His fingers were long and they were soon matched by his other hand, covering Harry’s other cheek and Tom was cradling Harry’s face and it was very nice.
“Hi, Tom.” Harry felt awkward and gangly next to the other boy’s innate grace, but that didn’t seem to matter as much when the overwhelming force of Tom’s attention was solely on Harry.
“Do - do you know what happened? How I’m here instead of in the memory-thing you wanted to show me?” Harry struggled to maintain his train of thought as Tom decided he needed to map Harry’s face with his fingers, stroking along his nose and jaw and temple and up towards where his scar was hidden under his hair. Harry didn’t like people seeing his scar, much less touching it - too many bad memories - but it was happening so quickly and also this was Tom. So when Tom touched his scar and it felt warm instead of prickly cold? Harry gave a little gasp.
(In the back of his head, he noted that between touching his scar and seeing Harry’s reaction, Tom’s clear gray eyes darkened.)
The boy in question snapped his eyes back to Harry’s and answered, ruefully, “I have absolutely no idea how you’re here, Harry. Something about our magic interacting facilitates feats of magic I’ve never heard of before.” With one last caress of his finger to the shell of Harry’s ear Tom pulled reluctantly away. “I can’t say that I regret that it happened, however.”
A sly smile overtook Tom’s face, and he took Harry’s hand to drag him towards a couch. Harry trailed behind him, a little lost but willing to see where Tom would take this.
Tom sat down on this large, plush couch that matched the dark wood-and-green aesthetic of what Harry assumed was the Slytherin common room, but Harry quickly stopped his perusal of the decor when the other boy promptly pulled Harry down to sit against his side.
Tensing, Harry sat stiffly for a bit before Tom slung an arm over his shoulder and pulled Harry against his firm torso. Slowly Harry let himself relax, eventually just leaning against Tom.
“We can talk to each other now without making our fingers sore, huh?” He remarked.
“Indeed we can.”
"So how did Slughorn land himself what is essentially a permanent potions position when they can't keep a Defense professor for more than ten months? Do you have any insights from your time, old man?" Harry teased.
"Oh, shove off with your age jokes." Tom nudged Harry's shoulder.
After a while of being held against someone, warm where their bodies touched, Harry felt like something tightly twisted deep inside was slowly, incrementally untwisting and it was just... such an unfamiliar sensation. He shivered.
Trying to distract himself, he piped up, "What memory were you going to try to show me?"
Tom grinned rakishly, a single dimple showing in his cheek. So unfair. "Why, I was going to show you the memory of when I opened the Chamber of Secrets myself."
Before Harry had realized he was trying to escape, Tom had reeled him back in and was pinning him with an arm across his shoulders. "Easy there, easy."
"I can hear you trying not to laugh, jerk." Harry was not pouting. He wasn't!
Tom did snort this time. "The Chamber will still be there when you head out - I want to sit here with you a little while longer."
"Fine. But you're going to show me."
Tom turned his head so he could whisper into Harry's ear. "I promise, darling."
Pieces of iron came together with a “Clang” that reverberated through the high-ceilinged workshop.
Eerie reflections were cast on the walls as a muttered voice could be heard saying, “That Potter kid needs to be taken down a notch or five. Who does he think he is? The Light brat. He doesn’t deserve to share the unique gift of Parseltongue with the Dark Lord, may he live on!”
A wand became a welding torch, and then ignited.
Harry collapsed into the world of the diary, one night. There really wasn’t any other way to describe it - he landed on his feet, then slumped like a puppet that had had its strings cut. Tom was all over him in an instant, nudging and tugging him until he was curled up with a blanket and both his hands held in Tom’s.
“What’s the matter, Harry? You’re dead on your feet.” Tom looked genuinely concerned.
Harry couldn’t hold himself together under this much concentrated attention. “I just - it - everything was too much today, Tom.” He could feel his eyes watering. He didn’t want to cry in front of his, his Tom, but it didn’t look like he had a choice today. “I don’t really want to talk about it?”
“That’s perfectly fair, Harry.” Tom murmured, coaxing Harry towards him and wrapping him up in his arms. “I’ve got you. You’re all right.”
And Harry fell apart, but it was okay because Tom was there to put him back together again. He’d never had anyone to hold him while he cried - he rather liked the experience.
There had always been students who’d been antagonistic towards Harry for various reasons, and one of them was most likely responsible for this large, shambling construct boxing Harry into this far corner of the dungeons. It wasn’t like Harry wasn’t good with dueling spells - he was! But he’d tried most of the spells in his repertoire and this metal thing must be made of freaking adamantium because it was impervious to fire and ice and slashing.
He’d cast all he can, and it was the end of a long day of classes so his well of magic wasn’t exactly full anyways, and it was not looking great.
The thing kept coming closer, and there was only so much hallway Harry could back down before he got to the dead end he knew, from many exploration trips, was behind him. His breath was picking up because this is not how I’m going to go down! I’ve been up against much worse! But his leg was bleeding from the construct’s last swipe towards him, and his head was going a little fuzzy from being knocked too hard against the wall. Harry of all people was familiar with the symptoms of a potential concussion.
His wand was in his right hand, and his left was fishing around in his school bag for something, anything to help. He bumped against a quill, a plant bulb from Neville, and a loose book that must be Tom’s diary since he “forgot” to place it back in the warded box every time. Too many steps.
Anyways he meant to keep trying to find something to help but his hand had stuck to the diary and there was a tugging feeling, then a pressure against his skin and then holy Merlin magic was surging up his arm towards his wand hand and the ghost of an idea came into his head.
He incanted, “Magnetum ferrum,” pointing at the feet of the construct, and breathed out a sigh of absolute relief when it stuck and couldn’t shuffle forward in that awful inevitable gait. It looked confused for a second, or at least whatever passed for confused on a brainless construct, and Harry took that instant of opportunity to duck under its arm and out of there.
When he was far enough away that it was safe to take a second to breathe, he did. Great gasping breaths with his hands on his knees.
When he passed a prefect in the halls, he told them where they could find the construct and that they shouldn’t go down there without a teacher. He then turned down their horrified offer to take him to the hospital wing with a “I’ll be fine, it’s more important to get a teacher down there to neutralize it before it finds any other students, don’t you think?”
He stumbled his way to an abandoned third-year classroom, shutting the door and casting a locking spell with the last of his strength, where he promptly collapsed.
Dredging up the energy to pick up his bag and take out the diary was a notable thing, he wanted to be known.
As soon as his thumb brushed the book, he was pulled down into the world of the diary and Tom. Harry breathed a sigh of relief. Or a sob. He couldn't quite tell which. Hands fell on his shoulders, turning his head to the side to check his eyes. Harry managed to get out, “I know I have a concussion, Tom, I’ll be fine, I’ve dealt with it before.”
Tom’s own eyes were wide and his lips were pinched together. “We are going to talk about that, but it’s decidedly not fine and I’m going to help.”
After Harry’d been bundled back onto the couch and his leg had been at least given a rudimentary once-over, he glanced up at Tom.
“Don’t think I’m forgetting about you sharing magic with me.”
Tom flinched. “Are you sure you don’t want to forget about it?”
Harry narrowed his eyes at Tom. “I’m sure. And I’m sure I know that wasn’t my magic, either. It’s slightly suspicious that I was able to share magic with you and that it happened the other direction as well, with no apparent problems, don’t you think?”
Tom’s mouth opened, like he was going to try to argue the point, but then he seemed to deflate a bit. “Yes, well.” He scratched the back of his head with the hand that wasn’t cradling Harry’s neck with a cooling charm, a gesture that struck Harry as very disarming.
He gentled his voice a bit. “Why don’t you start by telling me what you think happened? To the best of your knowledge.”
Harry could almost physically see Tom’s “academic cap” being put on. “In your ongoing interactions with me, have you noticed that there have been increasing occurrences of emotional bleedthrough?”
Slowly nodding, Harry agreed.
Speaking more carefully, Tom continued. “When I described what happened in the potions lab, I wasn’t being completely honest. Hear me out!” He rushed to assure Harry, who’d started to twist out of his grip to confront him more face-on. “I told you the truth! The diary is built with the capacity to take magic from the user, through its runic array. What’s also true is that I have never, never attempted to take or drain your magic in any way. When that spell hit, the magic of it wasn’t filtered through the diary’s matrix, I was able to use it as just… me. Like it was from my own core.
“And when you touched the diary back in the corridor, I could tell you needed immediate aid, so I tried to replicate that magic-sharing since I already knew it was a possibility. Apparently, thankfully, it works in both directions.”
Harry tried his best to think through this logically, his hands tightening and then relaxing their grip on his knees. “How, though? That’s my main question. The only explanation I’ve heard for people being able to completely share magic was in this one vague reference to soulmates in one of Hermione’s books, and I rejected that because I thought soulmates were some romantic fairytale thing.” He glanced up at Tom’s face, not quite knowing which expression he wanted to see. “Are they a thing, Tom?”
The other’s forehead scrunched up as he considered this. “Do I think that some overarching entity has preordained fated couples to be each other’s best romantic match? No. However…” And here he scrubbed his hand down his face. “There are two potential explanations.”
He looked Harry dead in the eye, perfectly serious and with more than a little trepidation. “The first is that we may have overlapping auras. This has been documented, where people whose auras match or complement each other can sometimes tandem cast magic.
“The second has to do with the fact that we’re both Voldemort’s horcruxes.”
Harry exploded away from Tom, off the couch, across the room. “Holy fuck. What the fuck, what the absolute bleeding hell?!”
Tom had half-started out of the couch towards Harry, but had frozen. “You obviously know what I’m talking about then. Um, I know this is a lot but I can explain further if you want me to?”
“I mean yes, I’m going to need your explanation, but first I must insist on repeating what the fucking hell. Horcruxes? You’re a Horcrux, Tom?” Harry whipped around from the far corner of the room and made his way back with long, agitated strides, his hair standing on end and sparking around his face. “I’m a Horcrux? Voldemort put a piece of his soul in me??”
“He… did.” Tom sat back down, gingerly. “From what I can gather, that Halloween, Voldemort had already made the ritual preparations to create a Horcrux, so when he murdered your parents, a part of his soul split off and embedded itself in you.”
“Did he do the same thing to you?” Tom’s face fell, and Harry had a horrible sinking feeling as he put some of the pieces together.
“No.” Harry backed away. “You’re Voldemort?”
“I’m… I’m me, Tom Riddle, and when I was sixteen I made a Horcrux and apparently split off enough of my soul to stay conscious and sentient in this blasted diary. The rest of me, he went off and became Voldemort.” He reached a hand towards Harry in supplication, maybe.
“Stay away!” Harry kept backing up, and his face must have been doing something awful because Tom looked devastated. His hand dropped.
“Yes, a part of me became Voldemort. But I don’t want to see you dead! I’ve never wanted to see you dead,” he pleaded.
“That part of me, out there, the main soul or whatever, has been actually alive for fifty more years and apparently has been a horrible person. But that’s not me. I… I opened the Chamber of Secrets in order to prove that I was the Heir of Slytherin, and in doing so I released a basilisk into the school. When the basilisk killed someone, Myrtle, I felt just, so guilty. But I’d been agonizing over that portion of the horcrux ritual so long that when the solution fell in my lap I’d have to have been an idiot not to take advantage of it. Or, at least, that was the desperate mindset I was in at the time - spring 1943. I didn’t want to die in the Blitz, Harry.”
Harry felt heartbroken. “You’ve killed someone??”
“Not directly!” Tom was quick to try to assure him. “I told the basilisk it shouldn’t turn its eyes toward anyone, but Myrtle was right there as it came out of the tunnel one time and she didn’t stand a chance.”
“Why did you open the Chamber - why did you let it out in the first place?” Harry just wanted to know, wanted to make sense of it all.
“They all looked down on me because I was the ‘Mudblood Slytherin orphan’ and I just… I wanted them to know that I meant something, that I came from somewhere! The snake had been so lonely and hungry when I first came down that I couldn’t just ignore it - I went down to visit, and let it out so that it could go through the pipes to the Forbidden Forest to feed.
“Now I know that was a bad decision. But there wasn’t anything I could do…” Tom looked helplessly at his hands. “I’ve been stuck in the diary for fifty years, Harry. I’ve had so much time to contemplate, to realize what I’d done wrong."
Tom's voice was hushed and a little shaky. "And I was wrong, my decisions killed her."
Harry forced himself to breathe. Okay. "Okay," he said out loud. I sound like I'm trying to convince myself of something. "I'm going to leave now."
Nodding, Tom stood up from the couch, grabbing one wrist with his other hand in front of him. "Of course. Goodbye, Harry."
Halfway through turning and heading for the door that would get him out of the diary, Harry froze and twisted his head back around, quizzical. "That's very uncharacteristic of you, Tom. You're going to let me go that easily?"
"I'm a killer. I share, essentially, the DNA of your parents' murderer. I don't expect the balance of our friendship to outweigh all that baggage, really." The man lifted one shoulder in a kind of a helpless gesture. "For what it's worth, I enjoyed getting to know you."
"You know I could be walking right out of here and to the club to get a venom-soaked knife, right? Like, I'm perfectly within my rights to do so." Harry wanted to make sure everyone was on the same page here.
Tom's jaw clenched. "Yes... I'm aware of that."
With one hand on the doorknob, Harry mused, "You're a curious one, Tom Riddle."
Several days later and some emotional distance from the issue gained, Harry had come to a conclusion. Before he could talk himself out of it, he grabbed the diary, stepped forward into the Slytherin common room, and asked point blank, "Why did you save me, Tom?"
Tom's face had lit up tentatively with something a little like hope. "Harry." He stumbled over himself, running both hands through his wavy chestnut hair until it stood on end. "Okay, all right. Um, sorry, I'll talk. It's - I wasn't expecting you to come back, honestly."
Harry was having trouble staying stern in the face of Tom's obvious uncertainty, but he concentrated on keeping silent so Tom would continue talking.
"I've had so much time with only myself for company, and what I'd done prior to being caught in the diary was a sequence of events that I'm deeply ashamed of. Time doesn't exactly pass linearly in here, but I'd repented for my deeds a long, long time ago."
Tom blew out a breath through pursed lips, trying to calm himself down and speak more slowly. "I've been - so lonely, Harry."
"And then you came along and I like you and I enjoy talking with you and you speak Parseltongue and we can share magic...”
He tilted his head up, hesitatingly making eye contact with Harry.
“Can’t you see why killing you is the last thing I want?”
And the thing was… Harry could see that.
As far as Harry could tell, Tom had been painfully honest, getting everything out there, even the things that painted him in a bad light. He was telling Harry the truth as he knew it. And he couldn't imagine what it would be like to be stuck in a magical object by yourself, directly after doing the worst thing you'd ever done, for literally half a century - the self-recrimination would have gotten to Harry within a week.
He had to say something.
“I want to believe you, Tom,” he admitted. “I don’t like the fact that I’m a Horcrux or that you’re one, but it makes the most sense out of everything. I like that Myrtle died even less, but it’s not like you haven’t been punished for that already.”
He licked his lips and continued. "I... I would like to continue being your friend."
Tom let himself slump forward a little in relief. “Okay. Okay, good.”
Harry looked more closely at Tom, wondering. Huh. “You really care about me, don’t you? Why?”
Glancing up at Harry, Tom bit his lip, obviously considering something. He then stood up, slowly, hands to his sides as he began to speak.
“I said before, I like you, Harry. I enjoy talking with you and being around you.” His gaze was intent, his voice was low, and Harry was having trouble breathing. “I think we fit well together.”
He was in front of Harry already (how did he get there so fast?) and he placed a hand softly on Harry’s shoulder as he continued.
“I want to see what we could do together. What we could accomplish.” The hand slid up the side of Harry’s neck, into his hair, and Harry couldn’t hold back the shiver.
“I like who I am when I’m with you, Harry. And I hope you feel the same.”
Looking back on their interactions, Harry was less surprised than he’d thought to find that he agreed.
Tom was whip-smart and had a dark sense of humor, and he understood Harry far better than any of the friends he’d made in his previous six years at Hogwarts. Harry could get obsessive, and he cared far too much about some things and not at all about others, and he knew he frustrated some of the people who knew him best. Tom? Tom ran with it - between the two of them, they’d solved problems and protected each other and had heart-to-heart conversations and Harry didn’t want to lose him.
Harry reached into his core and pulled forth his aura. It blazed out around them both, and Tom stretched out his hand and ran it through the golden swirls with utmost awe on his face.
§ I like you too, Tom. §
They were close enough that Harry could see Tom’s pupils blow wide open with desire at the sound of the language only the two of them shared.
§ I’m so glad to hear, that, darling. §
Harry shuddered, and Tom took that moment to reveal his own aura, which unfurled in an understated purple and green. Purple and green that matched Harry’s.
They stood there in the middle of the manifestations of their magic, proof that they aligned with each other, staring into each others’ eyes.
It was inevitable that one or both of them - they could never tell afterwards who started it - would lean forward and capture the other’s lips in a fervent kiss.
Harry’s hand grabbed at Tom’s trim waist. Mouths slid over each other in a hot, slick fervor. Tom tugged on Harry’s hair with the hand at the back of his head and Harry groaned into his mouth. He bit Tom’s lip in retaliation, then licked over it.
A hand fell onto Harry’s ass and squeezed, bringing their hips together in a slow grind and it felt so good that Harry rolled his hips into Tom’s again, yes.
Eventually they ended up on one of the armchairs in the room, sweaty and exhausted and intertwined and sated. Tom sat on the chair proper, and Harry was sideways in his lap, slumped onto Tom’s firm chest as the Slytherin ran his hand through Harry’s damp hair, scratching his scalp occasionally. If Harry could purr, he would be.
However, he did feel like they should talk about this a little more. “So, what does this mean for us?”
Thankfully, Tom continued in his soothing motions as he replied, “Well, the way I see it, the main threat to our happiness is the Horcrux in your scar. The scarcrux?” Harry snorted at that, then agreed. “There is… a ritual I’ve heard of that makes use of a triangle of blood and soul and magic that I think we could modify to both get the scarcrux out of your head and to get me into a body. If you’re willing, of course. At which point, we could kill the other part of Voldemort and live our lives free of him.”
Harry considered this. “That sounds awfully convenient, if it does work.”
He could feel Tom’s smile, even if he couldn’t see it from where he was curled up under his chin. “The ritual itself is going to be a pain to set up, and it uses a not-insignificant amount of what’ll have to be your blood. But yes, I think it could take care of a lot of our problems in a single swoop.”
“Let’s research the hell out of this ritual, then,” Harry determined. “Later.”
At this, Tom did laugh, and held Harry more tightly against himself. “Sounds like a plan, my dear.”
Hey, Harry. Do you want to see the Chamber of Secrets now? We're not going to find a better place to set up the ritual.
It was just after dinner, and Harry had settled into a chair in a hidden corner of the Library, but he jumped right back up again.
Is that even a question?? Yes. Now. Please? He could feel Tom laughing at him.
Sure thing. The first place you’ll need to go is the second-floor girl’s bathroom.
Harry stopped short, probably making the other people in the Library entrance look at him weirdly. He didn’t care. What.
Yes, I know it’s weird. My best theory is that one of the castle renovations moved the entrance from wherever Salazar accessed the plumbing to a location where more plumbing was directly needed. Either that or he had a poor sense of humor.
Huffing, Harry started out the door and turned left. Do you know how much time I spent knocking on walls and hissing at random fixtures in the dungeons?
Yes, I believe I do, Harry. He flushed a little.
Okay, yeah. You know.
Harry took a deep breath, then let it out.
Yes, this was a big deal, but he was prepared.
The runic circle was drawn out with salt and chalk and blood on the Chamber floor. Lit green candles demarcated the corners of inner and outer triangles, and were already slowly dripping wax down their sides.
The diary sat at the center of one edge, a bowl of fresh blood imbued and swirling with Harry’s magic at a second, and Harry at the third, breathing evenly after the extensive ritual preparation.
The only other things in the circle were Harry’s wand and a venom-soaked knife he’d checked out of the Curse-Breakers Club stores. He knew, intellectually, that the point of the club was to take care of dangerous artifacts, but really, getting the knife had been surprisingly straightforward.
They’d need the knife to deal with the scarcrux once they brought Tom back.
Harry began to chant in Latin, a single sentence over and over, rising and falling. The candle flames flared up, then sputtered, then turned a bright white that hurt Harry’s eyes to look at directly.
At that point, Harry stopped chanting and reached for the diary, placing his whole hand on the cover and bracing himself. A bright, hot point of energy moved up from the center of his palm, through his arm, and eventually to his forehead. There it hit the location of his scar, behind his temple, eliciting a sharp, blinding pain. Harry squeezed his eyes shut, not trying to hold back the tears, then opened them again. Tom was battling it out with the scarcrux, unanchoring it from Harry’s head.
He needed to continue.
Keeping one hand on the diary, he began to chant a second phrase, and when the flames turned a dark red, he reached with his other hand for the blood. He dipped one finger inside and lifted it out, a shining arc of blood following in its path. He drew a single rune in the center of the triangle with his finger, and he knew he’d done that part right when all the candle flames guttered out and the center rune started to glow with an unearthly golden light.
He stopped the chant. His part was mostly over now. He had to wait for Tom, keeping his hand connected to the diary and the rune - he winced again as the pain grew greater and greater until he could feel something separating in his head and this time there were two points of energy. One went down through his hand into the diary, at which point he lifted his hand free. The other slowly, agonizingly, made its way toward the rune, which at this point glowed at the center of a pool of blood.
When the spark reached the rune, the glow grew exponentially, to the point where Harry had to turn his head away.
The glow grew larger and larger,
and then with a “Pop!” the magic released, and Tom lay there, panting, on the stone floor.
Harry was… distracted, to say the least - he hadn’t yet seen Tom naked, and he liked what he saw. Shaking himself, though, he ran a finger along Tom’s cheek, then shook the other’s shoulder lightly. Long eyelashes fluttered.
“Tom? Are you… are you all right? How are you feeling?”
Groaning, Tom opened his gray eyes and zeroed in on Harry. “H-Harry?”
Harry tried to smile reassuringly. “Yes, it’s me. I’m here, Tom. It worked!”
“It…” Tom seemed to realize something, then shot upright into a sitting position. “We need to get rid of it now, before it has the chance to escape.”
Harry was confused for only a second. “The other Horcrux?” He glanced downward to see the book trying and failing to open, pages fluttering in an invisible wind.
Tom nodded grimly, then took a hold of the knife and brought it down towards the now-frantic diary. With a terrible ripping sound, the book was stabbed all the way through. What looked like black blood or ink started oozing out of the sides, and the gray shadow of a wraith tried to rise upward before crumbling back down into ashes. The knife dropped with a clatter from Tom's now-trembling hand.
“That fucker,” Tom gasped, “was more powerful than I’d accounted for. But you, darling,” he caressed Harry’s face and Harry could feel himself start to blush. “Your strength is the only reason I could overcome him.”
Harry couldn’t hold himself back any longer, and leaned forward to kiss Tom senseless.
Tom was here. In person. Alive, and well, and they’d rid Harry of his Horcrux.
What wasn’t there to celebrate?